The Impact Of Latinx Representation: A Case Study On Student Learning In A Holocaust Museum
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Background: Museums have been fundamental tools outside of formal learning environments in providing new learning and to support knowledge acquired in the traditional classroom. Museum spaces can add to the learning development of all students, yet the focus of this research is on Latinx students’ learning in a museum designated to the narrative of a Eurocentric experience, the Holocaust. Though not all museums across the United States maintain cultural awareness and inclusivity, there have been new methodologies and best practices created to reflect a multicultural experience within the museum space. Multicultural programs and exhibits dedicated to the interests of communities of color can enhance awareness of the institution, as well as increase the attendance of visitors from these communities. Purpose: This study aims to examine the perception of social science educators regarding how Latinx students interact and engage in an informal learning environment, with a focus on the educational effectiveness and benefits of Latinx representation in a Holocaust museum as seen through exhibits, educational programs, collections, educator professional development, and museum employees. The interactions of students, educators, and administrators can provide a critical lens on how learning is affected by the influence of informal learning. This study will examine the experience of school educators within the Greater Houston area and surrounding school districts in Harris County. The following research question will guide this study: (1) What are the perceptions of secondary social science educators regarding Latinx representation in museum education programs, exhibits, and professional development programming? Methods: A phenomenological case study research approach used open-ended individual interviews with participants in education from Title I public schools. A criterion sampling method identified 6 participants who are 7-12th grade secondary level teachers and directly involved in professional development, field trips, student workshops, or teacher workshops created by Holocaust Museum Houston. Individual and group interviews, observation data, and member checking of interview data were open coded based on predetermined (a-priori) categories as informed by the literature and theoretical framework, then re-evaluated and focused to produce emergent themes. Themes were defined and named to create a clear definition for analysis. Results: Participants of this study contributed insight into Latinx student learning in informal learning spaces through student field trips and educator professional development at Holocaust Museum Houston. The feedback from the participants indicated that Latinx representation in exhibits, programming, and education content would enhance the student learning experience. The findings show that there needs to be an understanding of the needs of the Latinx learner through social and educational strategies and resources. Conclusions : Museums are continually evolving to the changes in the demographics of the visitor, along with transforming the student learning experience. Through cultural competence and willingness, educators can be the guides for Latinx learning in environments that have previously been known not to include narratives that acknowledge Latinx history. Recommendations for this study are to produce and administer culturally relevant programming and education material that is accessible to educators that will enhance the Latinx student learning in museum spaces.